MARK Allen quietly departed from his director of football post on Friday evening so perhaps it was fitting that one of his parting gifts should pop up with the goal which sealed three hard earned Premiership points for Rangers.

With Livingston posing precisely the kind of nuisance value you have come to expect of them in recent years well into the second half of this match, Brandon Barker – plucked silently by Allen from his old club Manchester City during the transfer window – made his first serious contribution as a Rangers player when he got on the end of a flowing move to steer the ball high into Ross Stewart’s top corner with ten minutes remaining.

The goal gave Rangers some badly-needed breathing space to see things out after strikes from James Tavernier and Alfredo Morelos had re-established the home side's advantage after a Steven Lawless penalty which silenced Ibrox shortly after half-time.

Barker's involvement meant that a new winger had indeed provided some badly-needed impetus to kick Rangers out of the gloom which followed their Old Firm defeat at this venue a fortnight ago, much as many had predicted pre-match.

It just wasn’t Ryan Kent, the club’s new £7m man, who instead left the fray with a hamstring injury and a face like thunder five minutes before the first half reached his conclusion.

It is anyone's guess when the former Liverpool player will be sighted again but we can surely count him out against Feyenoord in the Europa League on Thursday, not to mention Aberdeen in a fortnight's time. As he walked gingerly and glumly off the field, all in all it wasn’t the ideal start to the second coming at the club for a man who had appeared unsurprisingly rusty in his 40 minutes on the field.

Hospitalised recently with a condition called rhabdomyolysis, a gym session having caused skeletal muscle to rapidly break down, Livingston manager Gary Holt had spoken vividly pre-match of hos his urine had looked like red wine. You could said say that is also a pretty fair metaphor for the kinds of miracles which are being performed in West Lothian under the reign of Holt and his assistant Davie Martindale.

Lined up in a 4-5-1 formation yesterday, again they performed like Lions for most of the afternoon. While they were happy mainly to stay compact and in their shape most of the afternoon, they posed menace from set plays and were a goal to the good just minutes into the second half.

Fortunate to get in at the break on level terms when an Arfield thunderbolt scudded off the underside of the bar, or when Ojo nicked the ball past the goalkeeper but overran it, Livi made Rangers pay. Ricki Lamie got on the end of a set piece and Arfield foolishly lunged in on the ball just as the excellent Lyndon Dykes nicked it away. The lack of protest from Arfield and the other Ibrox players said it all before Steven Lawless tucked the spot kick away with aplomb.

This league season is only four games old but already Rangers have had to dig deep a couple of times in their attempts to keep three points back on Celtic. As unpopular as referee Willie Collum was becoming around these parts, he didn’t endear himself with Livingston either for the free kick decision which helped Rangers back into the game. Morelos went down in a challenge with Marvin Bartley and James Tavernier’s free kick made it all the way from out wide and into the corner of the net.

Livingston almost went back up the park and re-established their lead. Chris Erskine got his head onto a Keaghan Jacobs corner but his header bounced back off the angle of post and bar. Dykes found space at the near post but his shot was right at Allan McGregor. Lamie was the next man to get a free header from a set piece but he couldn’t get his header on target.

This was hardly a vintage Rangers display, but they slowly turned the screw. A low Arfield shot was tipped past one post, then Stewart got a hand on a rasper from an angle from Morelos.

The goal which re-established the lead was the kind of scrappy, scruffy ones which all the best strikers snaffle up. Tavernier’s corner skiffed off the head of Dykes and Morelos met it sweetly to send it into the top corner. The little Colombian ran off to celebrate it with a fist bump with Jermain Defoe, his rival for a striking spot.

Barker got his big moment shortly after, getting on the end of some great work from Arfield, Morelos then Ojo to step off the left onto his right foot and capitalise on the home side’s most fluent move of the entire match with a drive into the top corner.

Livingston had contributed massively to the match but it ended on a sour note for them. Their chances were effectively over when Dykes received his second yellow of the match when he caught Connor Goldson in an aerial challenge on halfway.